because the personal is cultural
I didn’t watch Eurovision this weekend but I did go to Tangente to see Dance Roads, so let’s pretend that it’s the dance equivalent of Eurovision. In competition: Wales, the Netherlands, Canada, Italy, and France.
Representing Wales, Jo Fong with Dialogue - A Double Act
A video projection where the public sees itself in real-time, as in a mirror, which reminds me of the Belgian theatre company Ontroerend Goed’s Audience (and this even though I haven’t seen it). On stage, six chairs, two of which will find seaters, the female performers of Dialogue - A Double Act. They provide the suggestion of a performance, a sort of low-energy runthrough, like Michèle Febvre in Nicolas Cantin’s CHEESE. They often explain the performance instead of or just before actually doing it, like Andrew Turner had in Duet for One Plus Digressions. All this to say that it’s as charming as the performers are, but leaves us with a feeling of déjà-vu.
Representing the Netherlands, Jasper van Luijk with Quite Discontinuous
An athletic duo for two men with lots of floor work, which could make us think of breaking, but the moves are decidedly contemporary. The dancers are agile and the partner work is inventive. The relationship between the performers remains ambiguous. There seems to be a desire for connection, but both are on their own trajectory so that there is a difficulty in connecting. It might even be impossible. After one lies on the ground as though dead, the other shines spotlights on him, as an homage to the other and the desire for connection with him in spite of its unfeasibility.
Representing Canada, Sarah Bronsard with Ce qui émerge après (4kg)
A strange creature appears in obscurity at the back of the stage. We imagine there’s a dancer under there, though we can’t even figure out in what position they are. Soon we are able to make it out: it is her dress worn upside down, hanging off her body. She drops it on the floor, leaving her with a black pant-and-shirt combo. This is significant because Bronsard dances the flamenco but, like she leaves the typical dress behind, so she does with other elements of the dance. For example, she performs to ambient music and a dozen percussive contraptions with Mason jar lids for drums. As such, it’s hard to anticipate where the piece will go at any given moment, casting flamenco in a new light.
Representing Italy, Andrea Gallo Rosso with I Meet You… If You Want
Another duo for two men, which begins with them pushing each other’s back repeatedly, a rather lazy display of antagonism that unfortunately ends as soon as it gets more creative. In the second section, they evolve independently before falling into partner work for the third act. They end with the choreographic find of the piece as the two men, standing back to back, slide against each other to embrace on one side before sliding against each other’s back and embracing on the other side in a loop. Still, the piece lacks clarity.
Representing France, Teilo Troncy with . je ne suis pas permanent .
It begins quietly, with but a bit of a light on a sole woman. Soon, we hear music, but as though it is coming from a great distance. The dancer seems happy about it. The music comes in full force and she can finally do her jazzy dance with great energy. When the soundtrack disappears, she is left alone, humming as if trying to remember what she must do, psyching herself up. However, the grandeur of her movements danced to silence makes her look as though she’s having a meltdown. Things don’t seem to be going wrong technically as much as mentally.
And the winner is…
Because it’s refreshing to see a contemporary dance piece that actually has dance in it. The Netherlands might seem like the obvious choice as it is the crowd-pleaser of the bunch. One might say that it’s not a particularly daring choice from the judges, but then again none of the pieces were especially daring either, so it might be fitting.
has an MA in Film Studies and works in contemporary dance. His fiction has appeared in Headlight Anthology, Cactus Heart, and Birkensnake.
s.verstricht [at] gmail [dot] com